July 22, 2021: American Paralympian Becca Meyers, a deaf and blind swimmer who won three gold medals, announced this week that she will be leaving the Tokyo Games.
Meyers said she made the decision because the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee denied her request to bring her personal care assistant to Japan. A personal care aide on staff will be available to help, he added, but will be available to the entire US Paralympic swim team with 34 athletes, including nine other athletes with visual impairments. Meyers is the only one who is also deaf.
“I am angry, disappointed, but above all, I am sad that I do not represent my country,” she said. wrote on Instagram.
Meyers wrote that the committee has allowed him to bring a personal care assistant, his mother, to international meetings since 2017. However, with COVID-19 security measures and limits for nonessential personnel in Tokyo, he is not allowed a personal care assistant. He acknowledged the protocols of the pandemic, but added that “a reliable PCA is essential to compete.”
“So, in 2021, why, as a disabled person, am I still fighting for my rights?” she wrote. “I am speaking on behalf of future generations of Paralympic athletes in the hope that they never have to experience the pain that I have been through. Enough is enough.”
In a sentence in order to The Washington Post, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee said it is working under “unprecedented restrictions around what is possible on the ground in Tokyo.” Most events are held without spectators and there are significant limitations for “foreign delegations”, including personal care assistants.
“This position has resulted in some athletes warning us that they will not accept a nomination to the United States team for the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” the committee wrote.
“We are heartbroken for athletes who need to make agonizing decisions about whether to compete if they cannot have their typical support resources in a major international competition,” the committee wrote. “But our top priority is ensuring the safety of our athletes, coaches, staff and citizens of the host country.”
Meyers, 26, was born with Usher syndrome, which is a rare genetic disorder that affects both hearing and vision, according to to CBS News. As a two-time Paralympian, she has won three gold medals and multiple world championships. She was scheduled to compete in four events in Tokyo.
“The Paralympic Games are supposed to be a paradise for athletes with disabilities,” Meyers wrote. in a column for USA Today after its announcement.
“How could I set foot in a foreign city, with the many restrictions and barriers that COVID-19 has put in place, and hope to feel safe for two weeks?” she wrote. “How can any of us?”